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Students vow they'll rebuild their shanty

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Students vow they'll rebuild their shanty



Student activists at the University of Michigan say they will rebuild a wooden shanty on campus, in their continuing protest against apartheid in South Africa.

Vandals twice set the shanty afire over the weekend. This morning, an unidentified person dismantled the shanty, leaving a pile of lumber on the U-M Diag, near the Graduate Library.

“Thousands of black South Africans go to sleep every night and wake up every morning in shanties like this one,” said Barbara Ransby, founding member of the Free South Africa Coordinating Committee, a campus group.

Would-be arsonists attempted to burn down the shanty at 7 p.m. Friday and again at 3 a.m. Sunday, according to the Campus Safety Department.

“We have no suspects,” reported Robert Pifer, assistant director of safety at the U-M.

Ann Arbor firefighters were called to the scene Friday night. Sunday morning, campus security officers used extinguishers to put out the fire.

Students activists said they plan to rebuild the shanty this afternoon.

Students received permission from the university to erect the shanty for two weeks - a period which ended last Friday. But students now say they want to leave the shanty standing as a reminder of apartheid in South Africa.

Henry Johnson, U-M vice president of students services, said he had not been contacted by anyone about extending permission for the shanty. He said he plans to talk today with students.

The anti-apartheid activists say the university may have ordered the shanty dismantled this morning.

But the U-M Safety Department denies that university employees took down the shanty.

“We didn’t touch it,” said Pifer.

Students at other universities around the country have also constructed shanties to protest South African apartheid.

At the University of California in Berkeley, student protesters and police clashed last week when the university dismantled 13 shanties. University officials there said the cardboard and plywood shacks were a fire hazard.

At Dartmouth University, a group of conservative students vandalized shanties constructed on campus.


Students planned to rebuild the shanty today.